September 28, 2011

Quit Coal, Michigan State University

Cross-posted from QuitCoal.org.

Hi my name is Jordan Lindsay and I am a sophomore at Michigan State University. I'm a member of the campus group MSU Greenpeace that has been running the Quit Coal campaign for the past two and a half years.

I first got involved with the group last year, my freshman year, when a friend invited me to a meeting. From the very beginning I was hooked. I had always wanted to do something good for people and the planet and now was my chance. I started petitioning, and planning a movie screening, and basically volunteered for whatever I could.

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The people in the group made me feel so welcome and I learned so much about the true costs of coal. Not only did I learn how huge of a contributor to climate change burning coal is, I also learned of that its entire life cycle is hazardous to human health. We continued my first semester by disrupting Board of Trustees meetings and having a die- in on campus. As a result of the pressure we were putting on the administration we got to put a representative on the Steering Committee for a 20-30 year energy plan for the university.

We have the largest on-campus coal plant in the nation and even so, it will soon be reaching its capacity. This means it will have to be expanded or replaced, and obviously we are pushing for it to be replaced with 100% clean energy. Right now, the steering committee is not focused on making this necessary transition, and the decision is going to made early next year. This is a very critical time in our campaign to make sure that our demands for health and a safe planet are met. Momentum is building around the country and with hundreds of campuses across the nation participating this October, the message will be stronger than ever.

We need to stop relying on dirty energy.

Now is the time for bold action. It is time to send a strong message to the people in charge that climate change is real and living with dirty energy is dangerous. This October we are going to be drawing a line in the sand that says, “No more dirty air, no more dirty water, energy shouldn't cost lives.” The October actions are a perfect opportunity for people and campuses around the nation to show solidarity and send a bold message that we are strong and we are not going away. As we have seen this year with Powershift, the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher, and most recently the Tar Sands Actions, people are willing to step up and make personal sacrifices to highlight the severity of the environmental and social injustices that dirty energy implies.

Over 1200 people were arrested at the Tar Sands Action, several of which were good friends of mine. When you see people step up and take bold action like this, you are inspired to do the same, so I encourage everyone to join MSU and take bold action that will inspire your friends, your family, your campus, your community, to join you in the fight for our lives.

If you're asking yourself how to do something bold like this, ask yourself what you think needs to be done. It's not hard to see all of the problems but sometimes it can be difficult to pin point a path to the solution. There are a wide range of tactics that you can use, and it will all be relative to your campus but one thing is certain:

We can't just keep petitioning. You can host a rally, or a die-in, or disrupt Board of Trustees meetings. Think of a direct action or direct communication, non- violent of course, that will send a strong message to the decision maker that your voice will be heard. Do something big, do something loud, do something that will get everyone's attention. Get it in the media, have really striking visuals, empower the community to get involved, and have fun.

MSU Greenpeace is planning on drawing a hard line in the sand that says “Quit coal, clean energy is the only solution.” I hope that all of you will find a way to make change happen in your communities because that's where it has to start. If we neglect the problems in our own communities, who is going to speak up? We are the only ones, and we have our voice. This October, let's make sure it’s heard.

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Guest blog post by Michigan State University student Jordan Lindsay.